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Interview: Volvo’s Henrik Green talks about the new XC60, autonomous driving and electric cars

Team OD  /
23 Mar 2017 19:08:04 IST

The SPA platform and your 4-cylinder engine approach are big strengths.

Back in 2007 we worked hard to find the way forward for Volvo. Ford was looking for a different, and potentially stand-alone ownership. In such a world, where scale of economies is one of the big things you need, how would we survive? At this time, environmental awareness was drawing people's attention. They were questioning the environmental friendliness of cars. So we came up with the 4-cylinder strategy and the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform. And we now have a plug-in hybrid as the top-of-the-line performance derivative, as well as the environmental alternative. And then the 4-cylinder, which later became an additional 3-cylinder alternative. [The strategy] is now paying and bearing fruit.
We are enormously proud of the choices we made. Really really tough choices we made. It's almost 10 years ago today that we laid the foundation for the SPA platform and the 4-cylinder strategy. It's amazing that we would stand here today in Geneva and launch the XC60 which is really the core of
our portfolio.

Tell us about the new XC60.

I think it benefited from a lot of good SUV attributes, the ingress-egress into the car, you had a good view over traffic, you feel in command of the traffic sitting a bit elevated, and, at the same time, it gives you an agile design. It had car features that didn't scream out, I'm a big SUV", which at the time is a bit sensitive. You had these super-big masculine kind of off-road SUVs and this was one of the first of the more dynamic ones. This is an SUV, you're sitting high, but it's still a car. This is not a car built to look down on others, it's a car to drive. And when you look at it, you can almost see that, and I think that old XC60 expressed that notion very well and this one still does.

Volvo's experience with people's reactions to autonomous driving?

We haven't yet put families in the car. We are still very much in the phase where we're collecting the families and preparing for all the activities. On the other hand, we're still developing the technology.
It's a lot of focus on what kind of technologies we will need - how fast will the cars need to go in autonomous mode, how far away will they need to spot the pedestrian, so it's still a lot of technical challenges and decisions that we have to take.

When do we see a stage-5 fully autonomous production car?

We haven't made any announcement but we are aiming for a level 4 in 2021. Level 4 and level 5 are merging into one and the same. You can say that what we're launching in 2021 is a part of the journey of a fully autonomous drive car. So the car should be responsible, on particular designated roads that we have approved. You can expect that as you expand that network, the number of roads that are approved for autonomous driving increase... One day the network will have grown so much that the car has become level 5. Then there are technology steps to it. A number of roads will have to add the technology to be able to handle the cars " driving conditions will have to be met.

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